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Every year without fail we hear persons repeat the popular refrain: “New Year, New Me!”. There is extra fervour this time given the change to 2020, which has introduced that additional passion to transform into an amazing human being capable of overcoming all obstacles set within his or her path.
However, history has shown that within a few months or even weeks, the goals that we set for ourselves at the start of the new year are often discarded. We fall back into our old patterns and habits and the ideas we had to become healthier or financially independent become another discarded idea.
But how do we get around that?
Everyone wants to be better but many of us lack the drive to stick to a long-term goal without seeing an immediate result. We expect to change 10, 20, even 30 years of bad habits within a few weeks and if we do not see any changes, we get frustrated and discard the efforts until another January rolls around and we pick the idea up again.
The first thing we should do is to establish a vision, a long-term vision. Where do you see yourself in ten years’ time? Do you envision owning your own home, becoming a qualified professional, losing weight, or improving your health? With this vision in mind, you then work backwards by setting smaller, targeted goals that are:
So, if your goal is to own your own home, this should not be a lofty idea with no specifics as to how this would be achieved.
- Do you plan to buy an already completed property or build your home from the ground up?
- Have you consulted your budget to determine which option is more feasible?
- Have you had any meetings with various financial institutions to understand what your total and monthly financial obligations would be?
- Are you aware of all financial obligations that would not be included in the cost of the mortgage such as surveyor fees, insurance, legal fees, and so on?
- If you have identified your estimated monthly obligation, does your current disposable income support this or will you have to increase your earning capacity or reduce your current expenditures?
- If you do not have sufficient funds, what are you prepared to do to make your vision a reality?
Based on the acronym above and the questions raised, your new goal which would replace “Owning my own home someday ”, would look more like this:
- Based on my current expenditure and savings, if I save $500 a month for the next eight months, I will have enough for a deposit on a home that costs approximately $400 000.
- I will work an additional two hours a day, four days a week to make enough income to boost my earning capacity to reach this goal of $500 a month or I will spend my weekends making jewelry or cakes that I can sell for an additional $50 of income a week.
- I will have to adjust my routine to include meal and work preparations on Sundays and Wednesday evenings so that I am not too rushed in the mornings to meet this goal of working additional overtime.
- I will also ensure that my savings go to a fixed deposit account that will make it difficult for me to easily access these funds and I will make these deposits as soon as I am paid by using an automated deduction, as I know I have a tendency to make impulsive shopping decisions when I have too much additional money at my disposal.
- In April and July 2020, I will review the progress I have made and see what adjustments are required if I have not been able to consistently achieve my targets.
Creating new habits is never easy. Most research states that 80 to 90 per cent of persons that set new year resolutions abandon them within six weeks. However, if we establish a vision, set up small, SMART targets and keep ourselves accountable to these goals periodically throughout the year, we have a better chance of becoming the new us that we have always been longing for.
*Krystle Howell, CPA, CIA, COSO, ALMI, ACS, aka Mavis, is an Internal Auditor by profession, avid artist and a lover of dance.